- Mike Riedel
Take a look at the beverage racks at your local grocery and liquor stores. You may notice that the beer selection has greatly expanded over the last couple of years. This is due to a massive resurgence in the the popularity of craft beer; there are currently over 5300 breweries operating the United States, according 2016 data that's provided by the Brewers Association. There have never been this many breweries in our fair land, and the last time we were even close to this number was back in 1873, before monopolies and, later, Prohibition managed to kill off what was a vibrant beer culture.
Utah has not been immune to this resurgence, despite our arcane liquor laws. Our growth in the craft beer market has lagged behind other states over the last decade or so, but Utah's industry is catching up, and and we've finally gotten our second wind.
How much growth? So far since 2016, Utah has already seen the rise of three breweries: Talisman, Fisher and The RoHa Brewing. To finish out 2017, we may likely see an additional four breweries open up shop: Kiitos, RPM, Saltfire and Toasted Barrel. Kiitos Brewing Co.—the name, pronounced "kee'-tos," means "thank you in Finnish—looks to be the next. Owner Andrew Dasenbrock has been managing dozens of obstacles and roadblocks over the last two years to bring his dream project to life. Thankfully, he persevered, because he/we all get a brand new brewery out the deal.
Every brewery has its niche; some do IPAs, some do low-point beers. Kiitos is shooting for green beer. No, not that shit you drink on St. Patrick's Day. I'm talking beer that is made with as little impact on the environment as possible. What makes this brewhouse unique from other traditional breweries is its use of a high-efficiency brewing system (HEBS) with the ability to squeeze as much liquid as possible from the spent grains that are used. This cuts down on the amount of weight and waste, not to mention the savings on water.
All of these cool gadgets are great, but at the end of the day what we are really looking for are the beers that will be eventually be making their way into our tummies, this is the part where the brewers come in. Helming that big brewing machine is head brewer Clay Tunbow, who has been a member of Utah brewing community for quite a few years, first with Epic Brewing Company and most recently with 2 Row Brewing Company. Tunbow's familiarity with our market provides Kiitos with technical expertise that will help them navigate Utah's two beer worlds: the high-point and low-point alcohol game.
The plan for Kiitos will be to debut with three different 4 percent ABV beers. As early as next week, you'll be able to purchase cans of Kiitos Pale Ale, Blonde Ale and Amber Ale. If all goes according to the beer gods' plans, you should be able snag six-packs at Kiitos' beer store (608 S. 700 West In SLC) by the third week of September. Dasenbrock and Tunbow aren't content just to sell you their session beers; they've also got plans to get you the higher-alcohol stuff by December. At that time, look for IPAs, Porters, stouts and any other beer style that they can come up with.
Keep checking back here for more updates on this new brewery, and all of the other breweries that are making their way to a pint, chalice or stein near you. As always, cheers!